I want to start a (progressive) party
I had these thoughts in draft for some time and then I read “The Progressive Left Needs a Manning Centre Equivalent” by Scott Tribe. He managed to stir quite a debate and discussion with this and has actually attracted some really cool ideas as well.
At extreme risk of looking like I”m jumping on the band wagon and with even bigger risk of pissing off anyone who even remotely ‘aligns’ themselves with a specific party, I want to say this:
I WANT TO START A NEW PARTY.
As the Canadian Parliament FINALLY returns to work after the ‘recalibration’ of the Harper Conservatives (like they all got a little dizzy on a teacup circus ride and needed a chance to stop before they all puked in their $400 shoes), I watched, ever hopeful that someone with enough fortitude would make a stand against Stephen Harper and his ongoing charade as an elected leader of this country.
The Liberals caved quicker than a sand castle facing a tsunami. In fact, when you look at the voting numbers in the House, the Liberals are as blue as the Cons. The Cons have belly-ached about the possibility of a coalition for the last 2 years, and yet they’ve received support from the Liberals with nearly all of their bills … when they’re actually able to work in the House of Commons.
The NDP did no better. While I don’t want to suggest that Jack is Stephen Harper’s ‘Left-Hand Man’, I’m regularly forced to acknowledge that when he cuts what look like good deals in the short-run, I can’t help but feel that he’s selling Canada out in the long-run by helping Slippery Steve stay in power. The NDP, lead by Jack Layton, have helped keep the Conservatives in power for nearly 1,500 days, following their initial great amalgamation that occurred back in 2006 when they acted together to bring down the Liberals.
The Bloc, busy sucking the life out of Canada, did nothing as well.
The Greens weren’t there but I think I heard Elizabeth May doing a book review on the CBC. And let’s look at the cold reality with the Greens: they’re a single-issue distraction, offering nothing more than a SIGG water bottle elitist kind of feeling when it comes to political disobedience. When you scratch the surface, they’re Cons, hiding their market ideologies behind an environmental flag, fracturing votes across the country for all parties. They are nothing like their European counterparts. In time, the Canadian population will realize that voting for the Greens is like kicking democracy in the junk.
When ‘Steve’s Big Break’ came and went, no one in the ‘opposition’ took the opportunity or time to recalibrate their own lousy platforms and they all now continue to play the same cat and mouse bullshit that we had before the extended holiday.
THIS NEW PARTY SHOULD BE COMMITTED TO PROGRESSIVE IDEALS.
Maybe all we need to do is reawaken the Rhinoceros Party just to keep the other parties on their toes.
Maybe all we need is an advocacy group (or many) that will bury the Canadian public with opinions and ideas about decent things to do with our future instead of crying about how we don’t have enough guns to shoot people with or how our prisons will need to be run out of basements like crappy day-care centres because our public institutions are packed with first-time offenders.
However, I’ve hit a peak in frustration and none of the parties represent me or my ideas in the House of Commons.
So, I officially propose that we start a new party that is committed to progressive ideals for this country.
Canadians need a party that act in the best interest of Canada, and not just for themselves.
I’ve held off on this as long as I could, but I believe it’s time we started a new party.
Here are some things I’d want to see from this party:
- A true commitment to democracy. Voting lead by constituents and not by coercion of the party leaders.
- A declaration that the first act introduced would be one to institutionalize proportional representation in this country.
- A commitment to powerful, progressive income and consumption taxes that will help all levels of government balance their books.
- A commitment to true-cost pricing, effectively ending the carbon monopoly that exists in this country.
- A party that doesn’t cave at every turn to calls from the labour movement and that doesn’t have to flinch if it says that not every strike is OK.
- The elimination of the office of the Governor General.
- A republic? Why not? Why should an unelected official decide the fate of Canada when strong-armed by Steve and the Harpoons? We need a real discussion about why we’re still effectively ruled by a monarch from England.
- A REAL plan to wean Canada off carbon energy and to invest in all forms of renewables. The starting points of this plan might include ideas like never spending money on roads again; only putting money into public transit; divesting ourselves of GM and Chrysler because they are an abhorrent conflict of interest; and creating a transition plan for the Tar Sands of Alberta so that we can attend international events without feeling the shame of creating one of the world’s largest environmental nightmares.
- Support for a broad-based open-access philosophy for all public institutions. If I want information, I can get it. In text format, and not PDF. Further, all government institutions would have to make a commitment to using open-source technology and platforms so that we can stop dumping billions per year into the pockets of the likes of Microsoft.
- A plan to incubate and protect (yes, protect) Canadian businesses that focus on local, organic, natural or fair-trade.
- A plan to incubate and support new technologies and online platforms for all Canadians.
- A requirement that ALL houses built in this country starting on (pick a date) be net producers of energy. There’s no reason why we should have new developments that are net consumers of energy. We have the technology to do it. We lack the will to make it happen.
- A severe crackdown on monopolies in this country, starting with our communications companies.
- Recognition that the corporation is not the only business model in Canada. Support for non-profits, co-ops, partnerships and other formats, particularly those that favour small businesses, would be part of the party platform.
- A requirement that the CPP divest itself of all shareholdings related to companies that manufacture weapons.
- Complete and absolute withdrawal from Afghanistan. Immediately.
- A FULL inquiry into the Afghanistan detainee torture issue, including imprisonment of any officials associated with War Crimes.
- Funding and moral support for the UN, particularly its peace keeping bodies.
- Borrowing from our one true Bank (the Bank of Canada) instead of commercial lenders.
These are just top-level ideas about ways we can differentiate ourselves from the rest of the pack.
And don’t tell me that a new party would just dilute the left or progressive mind-set of this country. In Alberta, the Wild Rose Party sprung up to capture the level of resentment and we can do it for the whole country. The Bloc did the exact same thing in the 1980s and nearly destroyed this country.
We can do the same.
We owe it to future generations of Canadians to take action today.
1. wildrose… its alberta, they are hateful and regressive,, anybody offering a higher level of hate and conservatism will instantly gain support.
2. 80% of these are GPC policies proving you have no idea what you are talking about. Join up and push the other 20% and you’ve got the party you want. If they are really cons why are they spliting the LIb/ndp vote not the conservative vote. Recongintion that the market is a valid tool in some instances does not make greens Cons, just pragmatic, use what’s in place and what sometimes works because that is efficient use of resources. If the market can’t work you regulate.
3. Borrowing from the bank of Canada is simply the inflationary printing of money. Weimar Germany ring any bells.
So … you’re not in, but thanks for your comments.
I appreciate your point on all 3 counts, but with caveats:
1. I do not want to be the Wild Rose party, I’d want the progressives in this country to find a way to emulate their success.
2. I would never vote GPC because the Canadian version feels the market can fix everything. It can’t and won’t. The GPC is also splitting the Con vote, in some cases more than the Libs and Dippers. Your perception that the Greens are either ‘green’ or ‘progressive’ is clouded by the mainstream media constantly describing them as such.
3. If we print our own money and bear the consequences, it’s substantially better than handing our sovereignty to someone else. Think about it.
1. My point about Wildrose is they have what sells in their demographic , I don’t believe most Canadians are really as progressive as they claim they are and a more progressive party is probably not sale able.
The CAPP thing was a flop in my opininion, I was involved but I don’t believe Candians don’t really care about torture, democracy etc… some show lip service but the number willing to speak or act out shows we are not a progressive country.
3. I have, extensively Free access to money is suicide for a country, I would trust no party with the ability to print, spend, and socialy engineer their version of utopia, even a party I supported. They won’t know when to stop and will hurt the rational who save by creating inflation while rewarding the indebted over consumers by devaluing their debts. Too risky.
I was only half joking when I wrote this. Great minds and all that.
Something has to give and soon. In the meantime, Canada is becoming fossilized.
I understand you feel politically orphaned. Let’s review, for a chuckle, the latest federal parties that were started because of some sort of alienation from one of the main political camps.
1. Canadian Action Party – ex-Liberals seeking a more progressive alternative. Came close to making ANY sort of splash by proposing a merger with the NDP, which failed, due to the name-change deal breaker.
2. Progressive Canadian Party – ex-Progressive Conservatives seeking a real Tory party after the PC/CA hijacking. Could of had some local momentum in the 04 and 06 elections but their “start” candidates fell terribly short.
3. Western Block Party – Western separatist party, reactionary and useless.
4. United Party – ex-Progressive Canadians… not sure where they are going.
A Progressive Party of Canada is destined to the same political limbo as all these parties and their candidates. The only “new” party to change the political game in Canada have been the CPC and the Greens. The Canadian Action Party could have done that with an NDP merger, but cest le vie.
The Wildroses and Bloc Quebecois’ come once in a lifetime and they were only successful because they started their parties with sitting members in the House. In the case of the Wildrose, they’d still be at 8% in the polls if they didn’t gain a couple of floor-crossers. Even still, the Alberta PCs are not dead in the water and the polling has been erratic. As an Albertan, I’ve seen this movie before. The AB Liberals always threaten the PC’s in the lead up to an election or in-between elections. By-elections go the Liberal ways and then the provincial writ is dropped and the PCs sweep. If the Wildrose do take-over, it will be overnight. That said, the next election is two years away; in other words: an eternity.
The Greens need one seat before they really break open. May has a very good chance of getting that and then the membership will see what their party is made of. The GPC will never form the government, but they could rival the NDP in number of seats. They’ll be parliament makers or breakers and I believe that will push important issues to the top of the agenda regardless which party forms the government (LPC or CPC). And while it’s true, there are lots of Red Tories in the party, the Greens stand for a lot more than just a “single-issue distraction” as you put it. If you read their platform, you’d find that out. Furthermore, the Reform party, the WAP, the Bloc were all “single-issue distractions” before they earned their first seats too. Then the rest of their platform (in some cases) was exposed by the MSM.
Too bad you weren’t born in the Laurier Liberal era, you would have made one hell of a revolutionary.
Thanks Dylan, ProgressivelyConfused for your feedback.
So far, all I’m getting is resistance. People say we’ll just water down what we’ve got. We’re already watered down, so why not take a chance?
ProgressivelyConfused: I’m not keen on getting in a scrap about the whole Bank thing and interest on debt we carry. In an ideal world, we’d be net lenders, but now I’m just talking fantasy. Let’s put this in the parking lot of things we don’t HAVE to accomplish as a progressive party. This is just one of nearly a dozen elements that we could define better in order to push this forward.
I also disagree about CAPP. The initial effort was a wild success. The unfortunate outcome was that the energy was not funneled into something ‘bigger’. You said you had experience with this: why did it come to a sudden stop? Is it because there was nothing left to resist? Was it because people were being asked to act on their passion and put their money where their mouth was rather than just sign up to a Facebook page? I refuse to be that cynical. I think people will embrace something if it speaks to their personal interests and doesn’t push them away.
With that in mind, let’s focus on thing we CAN do and that make sense across a broad spectrum AND that will differentiate ourselves from the other folks. Things like democratic reform are at the top of my list. Yes, the NDP and GPC talk about PR, but have they acted on these promises? I know … the GPC hasn’t had a chance. But what about changing the structure of our government? Is conversion to a new form from monarchy Constitutionally unfeasible? If so, why? Because no one has the stones to put it in their platform?
Admittedly, I’m still in the ‘should’ department and despite my title and blog content, I’m not 100% convinced. I need others to rally with me and say this is the right thing to do. I wrote this piece to get a feel from the ProgBlog crew and I’m still hoping for others to help me funnel my frustration.
Dylan: thanks for the nod at the end. I’ll take it as a compliment 🙂
The right are united, the left are divided. If we can fix that, we won’t need a new progressive party, and if we can’t fix it, well then we’re fucked.
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